Monday 15 July 2013

Why WiFi?

Just a short post to share some information about the economy and government here, specifically with regards to how it affects daily life for Romanians...

When Ebbe first picked us up in Predeal at the train station he took us on a drive on some winding mountain roads which lead to the highway near Râsnov. To get to PDF, you have to turn off the highway and drive for 6 kilometres down a very bumpy gravel road full of large potholes. We've since learned that this road causes some major wear and tear on the vehicles much so that the staff avoid trips into town unless they're completely necessary, carpool whenever possible and run errands for each other when they do go to town. 

Here is a map of the area. To get to PDF you travel directly west of Râsnov for about 6 km on the gravel road (the gravel road isn't on the map):

We've been told that the mayor of Brasov County (probably more like a Premier to us Canadians, but the English word the Romanians use to describe him is mayor) lives just a few properties past PDF on this gravel road. Despite the conditions of the road, the properties here are quite sought-after for their views of the mountains and many wealthy people have summer homes near here. The property owners have been petitioning the government for ages to have the road paved and the "mayor" even promised in his re-election campaign that he would do this but he hasn't yet follow through on his promise. He has, however, paved his own driveway and a small stretch of road in front of his house AND purchased a helicopter for himself (with taxpayers' money, rumour has it) to get himself to and from the city so he doesn't have to use the terrible gravel road. Questionable? Yes, but apparently common despite all the changes that have occurred since the end of communism in 1989 and Romania joining the European Union in 2007. 

Since joining the EU prices of goods have gone up considerably here. We've been told that in some cases it's actually cheaper to buy goods in other countries like Germany and bring them into Romania rather than buying them here. This was definitely not the case when we were in Romania 10 years ago.  Things like groceries and clothing are pretty much on par with other countries in the EU and sometimes even a little more expensive, even though the average monthly net wage for a Romanian person is the equivalent of €387 (that's 1,617 Lei), and sales tax here is a whopping 24%. Even though there appears to be a fair-sized middle class in this area, we were told by a Romanian person that the gap between the rich and the poor is actually getting bigger, and that the introduction of the Euro to Romania would worsen this situation (there were plans to switch to the Euro in 2014 but it doesn't look like this will happen).  

On the other hand, services are extremely cheap here. One of the staff pays the equivalent of €5 for her cell phone each month and she has a plan that is comparable to what we have at home. Other services like hydro, water etc. are also fairly inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe.

Anyway, back to the title of this blog does a far-from-civilization centre like this have a super-fast Internet connection? The mayor, of course! We've been told he had a trench dug all the way from Râsnov to his property so he could have Internet access and therefore everyone between him and the town had the option for it too!

And in celebration of the fact that we have WiFi, here's a picture of Miriam playing outside today:

Jerry leaves early in the morning for his two-day bike tour. Please pray for his and the group's safety on the trails (a couple of them got hurt today) and for protection from bears. Hopefully when he returns he'll have time to post about his biking adventures, but you can check out his Facebook page for some photos in the meantime.


  1. A helicopter???? Seriously?!
    We are enjoying reading your blogs! Looking forward to hearing the stories first hand when you return!

    1. Yes, seriously! We look forward to seeing you guys again soon too :)

  2. We've been away for a few days so I just spent some time catching up with all that you've been up to...what an experience!! I am loving your blog and seeing the pictures! I'm so thankful that you are connecting with the people and campers there and adjusting to all that life has to offer. Jerry must be so excited to be involved in the biking part! Praying for his safety and connection with the kids. I'm also thankful for Deborah who speaks English and that you were able to connect with her and spend time with her...Miriam must love being doted on! :) Great to hear that you've figured out the cultural practice when it comes to meal times and that you're eating better! LOL

    Love the pictures! It really helps when reading your excited to hear more about this adventure in person when you get back! You're just wetting the appetite to hear more about all that you're experiencing.

    I know that God is using both of you in such meaningful ways and I will continue to pray.

    hugs and blessings,

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Rena!! We so appreciate all your prayers!